The Story of the Fisherman and His Wife
There was once a fisherman and his wife who lived together in a little hut close to the sea, and the fisherman used to go down every day to fish; and he would fish and fish. So he used to sit with his rod and gaze into the shining water; and he would gaze and gaze.
Now, once the line was pulled deep under the water, and when he hauled it up he hauled a large flounder with it. The flounder said to him, 'Listen, fisherman. I pray you to let me go; I am not a real flounder, I am an enchanted Prince. What good will it do you if you kill me--I shall not taste nice? Put me back into the water and let me swim away.'
'Well,' said the man, 'you need not make so much noise about it; I am sure I had much better let a flounder that can talk swim away.' With these words he put him back again into the shining water, and the flounder sank to the bottom, leaving a long streak of blood behind. Then the fisherman got up, and went home to his wife in the hut.
'Husband,' said his wife, 'have you caught nothing to-day?'
'No,' said the man. 'I caught a flounder who said he was an enchanted prince, so I let him swim away again.'
'Did you wish nothing from him?' said his wife.
'No,' said the man; 'what should I have wished from him?'
'Ah!' said the woman, 'it's dreadful to have to live all one's life in this hut that is so small and dirty; you ought to have wished for a cottage. Go now and call him; say to him that we choose to have a cottage, and he will certainly give it you.'
'Alas!' said the man, 'why should I go down there again?'
'Why,' said his wife, 'you caught him, and then let him go again, so he is sure to give you what you ask. Go down quickly.'
The man did not like going at all, but as his wife was not to be persuaded, he went down to the sea.
When he came there the sea was quite green and yellow, and was no longer shining. So he stood on the shore and said:
'Once a prince, but changed you be Into a flounder in the sea. Come! for my wife, Ilsebel, Wishes what I dare not tell.
How Greed for a Trifling Thing Led a Man to Lose a Great One
Category: Chinese folktales
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